The UTOPIA project: Using Telecare for Older People in Adult Social Care

This King’s College London report is based on an online survey of local authority telecare managers carried out between November 2016 and January 2017.

The survey, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research, aimed to find out how telecare is being used by local authority adult social care departments to support older people; the largest single group of social care users in England.

The research highlighted the limitations of the Department of Health’s Whole System Demonstrator sites and demonstrates how local authorities are making best use of telecare to support the needs of older and vulnerable people at home; these included the use of telecare to delay and reduce the need for care and support (97%), to enhance quality of life for people with needs for care and support (90%), to help with safeguarding (85%) and to prevent carer breakdown (84%).  

At an operational level, over 75% of respondents said telecare was used to augment social care, and to support reablement, and 75% said it was available for people eligible for local authority funded adult social care as well as for people who self-funded.

Over half (69%) also indicated a role for telecare as something that could be made available to people who were not eligible for social care, and as part of a ‘housing offer’ – for example, in sheltered (OSH) and very sheltered housing (VSH) or extra care (63%).

At a strategic level, just over a third (34%) saw telecare as something that could be available as part of a Better Care Fund arrangement (generally a fund directed to speedier hospital discharge) underlining the growing importance of having an effective strategic relationship with local NHS Trusts to deliver better outcomes for patients to facilitate care and support at home.